One of the best things about working freelance from home is that I now actually get the chance to listen to all (well, most) of the records and CDs that I have been accumulating. The most efficient and interesting way to do this is actually by just turning on our 100-disc player and hitting random play.
When I lived in NYC, I would get time to change the discs every 3 to 6 months. Now I’m listening to them every day, I find I get tired of them after about a month, which is pretty cool, because I’m hearing so much more of my collection than I ever did before. The reviews below are from discs that just came out of the player after a month or two.
Elis Regina: 'Elis, Como & Porque' (CD; ; 1969)
Outstanding Elis album. The Menescal arrangements are superbly rhythmic, and everything has that delectable jerky-yet-light late 60s feel.
1 Aquarela do Brasil
• Nega do cabelo duro (Rubens Soares-David Nasser)
2 O sonho
3 Vera Cruz
(Márcio Borges - Milton Nascimento)
4 Casa forte
5 Canto de Ossanha
(Baden Powell - Vinicius de Moraes)
(Tibério Gaspar - Antônio Adolfo)
7 O barquinho
(Roberto Menescal - Ronaldo Bôscoli)
(Edmundo Souto - Danilo Caymmi - Paulinho Tapajós)
9 Récit de cassard [do filme "Les parapluies de Cherbourg"]
(M.Legrand - J.Demy)
10 Samba da pergunta
(Marcos Vasconcellos - Pingarilho)
11 Memórias de Marta Saré
(Gianfrancesco Guarnieri - Edu Lobo)
Compilation - Jackie Gleason: 'How Sweet it is! The Jackie Gleason Velvet Brass Collection' (CD; Razor & Tie; 1956-1959)
This disc contains the original 'Velvet Brass' album, plus some extra bonus tracks, and Gleason's classic 'Melancholy Serenade'. It's very pleasant, although this disc has been somewhat superceded by my recently acquired 'romantic moods' 2cd set...
Compilation - Martin Denny: 'The very best of...The Exotic Sounds' (CD; Toshiba/EMI; 0)
A very high quality Japanese compilation of Denny's work. To be honest, the whole Denny/Baxter exotica thing washed over me at first, but about 4 or 5 years ago it really started to hit home. This disc mixes classic early tracks like 'Quiet Village' and 'Hypnotique' with later pop cuts and even a track from his Exotic Moog album.
We saw Ennio Morricone last night at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s a beautiful venue and always a nice place to see a concert. Oddly enough the previous events I had seen there were Cocteau Twins and Nick Cave, both in the mid-1990s, so the Morricone experience, complete with full orchestra and choir, was very different. The concert was incredible at first, with the obligatory Sergio Leone themes sounding particularly impressive. My favorite moment was ‘Once upon a time in the west’, just because it is physically spine-tingling to be in a huge hall while a singer makes that kind of noise. The second half was slightly less enjoyable for me, mainly because the overblown, Milva-esque tones of the singer didn’t work so well with Morricone’s later film score material, and the effect ended up sounding a bit corny to me. Still, it was an experience.
In other news, I recently cobbled together a script to generate thumbnail images of my records, which means that it’s simple for me to generate pages like this wall of records effort. I will try and get more cover art up there.
I spent some time digging around the 365 days site today. It’s a great project, but to be honest, I find it so overwhelming that I don’t have room for it every day. But it’s great to throw yourself into it once in a while. Of the ten or so tracks I downloaded today, the standout tracks were this steel guitar version of ‘And I love her’ and this remarkable karaoke singalong version of ‘I’ve had the time of my life’. I don’t normally have a huge interest in the ‘outsider’ music genre, but I find this recording fascinating, and have listened to it half a dozen times already. Particularly cool are the whispered instructions and moments between the two singers (particularly audible at the beginning of the track). The story of how the track wound up in the 365 days project is pretty spooky and interesting as well.
UPDATE: Listening closely to ‘I’ve had the time of my life’, I think I can hear some crowd noise in the background, as if the recording and karaoke performance were made in a mall or some other public place. Perhaps this is the key to how much I’ve enjoyed the track. About 10 or 15 years ago I did a similar performance in public, singing ‘We can work it out’ by the Beatles in London’s Trafalgar Square. I genuinely thought I was going to be pretty good, but as soon as the backing track started, I realized it was far too high, and I was horrifically off-key for the whole song. I wasn’t exactly delighted when they handed me a plain white-stickered cassette of my performance afterwards. To my shame, I can remember very deliberately taping over my performance soon afterwards. Hey, blank tapes were a valuable commodity in those days…
John Ashcroft sings! This may be old news to some, but I had never seen this before. The guy wrote a song called ‘Let the eagle soar’, and is shown here singing it. Unbelievable (found on the Michael Moore site).
Otis‘s compilation Two Zombies Later is now live, featuring music performed by members of the exotica list, including Misty Roses (featuring me and the mighty Robert Conroy). It’s available for free download, and I have to say it’s really pretty impressive.